To appraise or not to appraise…

Throughout  my career as a manager, and as a consultant, I have heard various reasons for not conducting performance appraisals. The most common is that they are no longer considered relevant. I have always strongly refuted such claims and in this article I will tell  you why.

I thought I should research why people say they are no longer good practice. This blog  says “If your firm isn’t giving out raises, you’ve got a great excuse to forgo the whole appraisal exercise. Do we really need to tell employees where they excelled and where they fell down over the past year—and does it help them when we do?”  This article highlights the thinking that creates poor performance appraisals. There are some fundamental flaws in this type of appraisal and I agree, appraisals that stem from this thinking should be banned. These flaws are:

  • Linking appraisal to salary review- a clear link between appraisals and salary review should be avoided as it will drive unhelpful behaviour
  • Thinking that appraisal is about “judging” and poor performance- a regular formal review  should focus on development and look for opportunities for  personal and business growth
  • Believing that appraisal takes time and energy- well planned appraisals will take time and energy, but it should be well directed time and energy which empowers and motivates people

My own set of rules for appraisals are:

  • Respect each other’s time and make an appointment well in advance, providing tools to aid preparation (these can be forms, on-line questionnaires, or a few key questions to think about)
  • Preparation by both parties is key. Think about what you want to cover and why, what you want to achieve and what the next growth step could be
  • Come to the meeting with an open mind, relaxed in the knowledge that this discussion will have outcomes which are mutually beneficial
  • No surprises- neither party should hear things they haven’t heard before. This is an opportunity to talk about the last 6-12 months in context and to highlight issues that you consider important, don’t use it as an opportunity to blind-side the other person.
  • Focus on development of the individual and opportunities for business development through projects or objectives.
  • Set goals for the next 6-12 months and also dates for review
  • Refer to the goals during routine meetings with each other during the year.

It is also important to realise that appraisals are important to high achievers who need feedback on their performance and relish goals to strive for. Regular appraisals are also an important component of retention strategies, if people know about the opportunities ahead of them they are less likely to look elsewhere.

So put appraisals on your business calendar at least once a year (ideally twice) and enjoy the experience.

More reading :

Eliminate annual performance review 

Performance appraisals are dead- long live performance management 

What are your experiences of appraisals? Do you think they should be banned?




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